Bug 14265 - Poppler doesn't render PDFs that check Adobe Reader is there using JavaScript
Summary: Poppler doesn't render PDFs that check Adobe Reader is there using JavaScript
Alias: None
Product: poppler
Classification: Unclassified
Component: general (show other bugs)
Version: unspecified
Hardware: x86 (IA32) Linux (All)
: medium major
Assignee: poppler-bugs
QA Contact:
URL: http://undergradresearch.fsu.edu/Gfx/...
: 20490 35701 39592 39826 56913 (view as bug list)
Depends on: 14433
  Show dependency treegraph
Reported: 2008-01-27 10:33 UTC by Keenan Pepper
Modified: 2018-08-21 11:08 UTC (History)
22 users (show)

See Also:
i915 platform:
i915 features:


Description Keenan Pepper 2008-01-27 10:33:25 UTC
Instead of the actual document text, Poppler renders this as a single page that

"To view the full contents of this document, you need a later version of the
PDF viewer. You can upgrade
to the latest version of Adobe Reader from
For further support, go to www.adobe.com/support/products/acrreader.html"

I think Poppler can do better.

Steps to reproduce:
1. Open http://undergradresearch.fsu.edu/Gfx/summer_award.pdf with Evince

Actual results:
Evince displays some lame error message embedded in the PDF.

Expected results:
Evince should display a "best effort" rendering of the actual text I want to

Does this happen every time?

Other information:
This seemed similar to some other reported bugs in Evince, but in all the ones I looked at, highlighting the text made it visible. In this case, highlighting does nothing.
Comment 1 Brad Hards 2008-01-28 01:14:08 UTC
That appears to be implemented with javascript. I'm not sure if it is really poppler's job to do that. I'm seeing it more as part of the reader (e.g. okular or evince).

Not positive though.
Comment 2 Carlos Garcia Campos 2008-01-28 01:47:45 UTC
Well, javascript actions are not supported by poppler. The reader even doesn't know that there is javascript there if poppler doesn't support it. 
Comment 3 Keenan Pepper 2008-01-28 05:22:42 UTC
Well, I originally filed this bug over at the GNOME Bugzilla, on Evince, but someone closed it "NOTGNOME" and said it was a Poppler bug. (The GNOME bug is #512160, but the database seems to be down at the moment...) Anyway, it has to be someone's fault! =)

BTW, is the example file technically a standards-compliant PDF, or a broken, non-standard one?
Comment 4 Albert Astals Cid 2008-01-28 10:23:24 UTC
The pdf is ok, just doing ugly things to keep non acrobat readers viewers out of the game. And i think JavaScript handling should be done inside poppler, at least partially.
Comment 5 Albert Astals Cid 2011-06-19 15:18:18 UTC
*** Bug 20490 has been marked as a duplicate of this bug. ***
Comment 6 Albert Astals Cid 2011-06-21 12:15:13 UTC
*** Bug 35701 has been marked as a duplicate of this bug. ***
Comment 7 Albert Astals Cid 2011-07-27 04:44:24 UTC
*** Bug 39592 has been marked as a duplicate of this bug. ***
Comment 8 Albert Astals Cid 2011-08-04 05:22:33 UTC
*** Bug 39826 has been marked as a duplicate of this bug. ***
Comment 9 Adrian Johnson 2012-02-23 05:03:42 UTC
I started looking at what it would take to implement javascript. The problem is all the javascript in this pdf does is check the viewer version and if > 7.0 loads the "XFA" plugin. The pdf contains a stream with 600KB of XML starting with "<template xmlns="http://www.xfa.org/schema/xfa-template/2.1/">".

There is a 1500 page specification for XFA at

Needless to say, at this point I gave up.
Comment 10 newbeewan 2012-05-14 00:33:06 UTC

I had post some feature request to okular but it probably for poppler :

There are some preliminary work in itext pdf here : http://support.itextpdf.com/node/134

It may help to implement basic support of xfa.

Best Regards

Comment 11 Albert Astals Cid 2012-11-09 18:33:35 UTC
*** Bug 56913 has been marked as a duplicate of this bug. ***
Comment 13 spam-mails-here 2013-06-26 11:37:03 UTC

Simply a polite question:
Will this issue be fixed in the near future or not?

XFA-Forms are becoming more and more important for me...

Thanks for answering :-)
Comment 14 James Cloos 2013-06-26 21:27:09 UTC
Adobe would have to document XFA forms before this even could be addressed.

The most up to date info I could find on that front is:


As long as Adobe keeps XFA forms proprietary they are not potable and livecycle and acroread are the only way to deal with them.

Speaking only for myself, I’d go so far as to say that private, unpublished extensions to the PDF format make the file not PDF.

Support for ECMA-Script, on the other hand, is merely a matter of coding.

Until poppler or evince add it, you might want to try compiling mupdf master

  (git clone git://git.ghostscript.com/mupdf.git)

with -DV8_PRESENT=1.  You’ll need to install v8 first.  Your distribution might pacakge it, else look at http://code.google.com/p/v8.
Comment 15 Bill McGonigle 2013-07-10 15:23:45 UTC
James, can you define the deficiencies in the spec linked from comment #9 so that we can understand which parts of XFA still need to be documented?
Comment 16 James Cloos 2013-07-10 21:48:09 UTC
>>>>> "b" == bugzilla-daemon  <bugzilla-daemon@freedesktop.org> writes:

> James, can you define the deficiencies in the spec linked from comment #9 so
> that we can understand which parts of XFA still need to be documented?

For starters www.xfa.org does not exist.  And xfa.org does not have an A
or AAAA record.

Comment 17 James Cloos 2013-07-10 23:30:42 UTC
It looks like the xfa situation isn’t as dire as I’d been led to understand.

OTOH, I’m not entirely certain that the licence text in the preface of the pdf referenced in comment #9 is GPL-compatible.  Or even DFSG-compatible.

In any case (unless Albert things otherwise), it probably should not be implemented as part of poppler.  I suspect an xfa-specific library would be better.

Poppler, of course, can help by assisting the extraction of the xml.

It is a huge (and likely non-Free) standard, will require web-browser-like implementation, and xfa is not limited to pdf encapsulation.

It might work better as an extension to webkit or gecko.
Comment 18 James Cloos 2013-07-11 00:11:04 UTC
Most of the information I have about xfa has come from the itext list.

An example of the type of info posted there:


If there is new info since 2011/12 I’d be interested to know.
Comment 19 Paul Menzel 2016-09-11 09:26:15 UTC
Sorry, but just to make sure, has there been any progress in the mean time?

The PDF viewer (pdf.js) included Firefox 45.3.0 is also *not* able to “correctly” display the form. There is an open issue in their bug tracker [1], where they take the stand, to not support it, until it’s part of the ISO PDF standard, and suggest to add support with an extension.

> Since this isn't currently part of the ISO standard there are no plans to
> implement it. Until it is in the ISO standard, it would probably be best if the
> support was added in some kind of "extension" to pdf.js in a separate repo.
> If someone is serious and wants put the work into adding it into mainstream
> pdf.js they should ping me and I could look into the implications.

1. Is XFA free?
2. What alternatives are there?

[1] https://github.com/mozilla/pdf.js/issues/2373
    "Support XML Forms Architecture (XFA) forms"
Comment 20 Máirín Duffy 2017-07-20 13:45:52 UTC
Hi, I just wanted to note that this is an issue with some US gov't employment forms as well, particularly the I9 form. I filed the bug initially against GNOME / evince - see https://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=785169
Comment 21 GitLab Migration User 2018-08-21 11:08:23 UTC
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